A probate is the legal court process by which the estate of a deceased person is distributed to his or her heirs.
Each entry in this index includes a transcript. The amount of details in each record can vary but most will include:
The index is easily as rich and varied as the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC), albeit necessarily on a smaller scale. There are entries from all over England (and particularly Essex and Hertfordshire as the jurisdiction of the Consistory Court of London stretched into those two counties), plus Ireland, Scotland and Wales; but great strength also lies in prodigious numbers of people domiciled or dying abroad, and of soldiers and sailors on active service - in virtually every case, the regiment or ship's name is given.
The range of surnames is vast, and it is probably true to say that there are not many which do not have at least two or three entries, even ones localised in areas far from London. Most entries in the index relate to wills and administrations, but the calendars to the smaller courts also reveal a few bonds, caveats and other associated documents, all of which have been included, as have occupation, parish and other details, if shown.
The index has been constructed for the most part from the near-contemporary probate calendars, continuously updated registers divided into first letter of surname, but no further. All information contained in those calendars has been included in the index, but note that some volumes are defective or too tightly bound to allow all details to be gathered (indicated in the index by three short dashes) but there is still in every instance sufficient detail for the researcher to turn to the records of the appropriate court and examine the full original entry. Parish and other place names, and a few other words have been silently expanded. It is a near certainty that the calendars will have errors or omissions, and thus a search of the Probate Act books may be necessary if you are sure that a will was proved but cannot find the entry.
The Royal Peculiar of St Katherine by the Tower: entries 1750-1772, and one in 1818. Original records held at the Guildhall Library, Aldermanbury, London EC2P 2EJ.
The Royal Peculiar of the Commissary Court of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster: entries 1750-1780s, with a few later to 1829. Original records held at the City of Westminster Archives, 10 St Anne's St, London SW1P 2XR
The Archbishop of Canterbury's Peculiar of the Deanery of Croydon: most entries relate to Kent and Surrey, but those for residents of Harrow with Pinner and Hayes with Norwood have been extracted 1750-1780s, with a few later for 1800-1832. Original records held at Lambeth Palace Library, London SE1 7JU.
The Archbishop of Canterbury's Peculiar of the Deanery of the Arches: entries 1750-1780s, with a few later to 1806. Original records held at Lambeth Palace Library.
The Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral: entries 1750-1837. Original records held at the Guildhall Library.
The Archdeaconry Court of Middlesex: entries 1750-1785, with a few later to 1810. Records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Rd, London EC1R OHB.
The Archdeaconry Court of London: entries 1750-1785, with a few later to 1807. Records held at the Guildhall Library.
The Consistory Court of London: entries 1750-1858. Records held at the London Metropolitan Archives.
The Commissary Court of London: entries 1750-1858. Records held at the Guildhall Library.